Mark Strong says it was a “no brainer” when Kathryn Bigelow asked him to audition for Zero Dark Thirty.

The British actor plays the Head of the Afghan Pakistani division of the CIA in the movie, which follows the ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden. Mark had no doubt when the director approached him about the film.

“You are always trying to work with the best people in the industry and film is the director’s medium. She was the first woman ever to win an Oscar and her next film is this, so yes, it was a no brainer,” he told UK TV show This Morning. “She had enjoyed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a film I had done. She had seen me in that and she decided I would be right for one of the characters in her film. I went to meet her in LA, and there is a scene where I have to tell everybody off, and that was the scene I had to do as an audition in a room with her and a couple of producers. I terrified the life out of them and they went for it.”

Mark was also quizzed about the violent scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, which have been heavily criticised.

He has defended the torture sequences, insisting scriptwriter Mark Boal took an honest approach to penning the film.
“All I know is that Mark Boal, who has a journalistic background, had some access to some members of the CIA who were happy at the time to provide him with certain details... I think that is what the argument is about, some Republican senators believe it was classified information... They certainly gave him information which enabled him to write the script and subsequently I think they have backtracked slightly in saying there are scenes they are unhappy with, which they don’t think are necessarily true,” he explained. “The issue has become the fact that some people believe that the film seems to suggest that torture is what leads to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Actually if you watch the film, that isn’t the case, and I don’t want to spoil it, but there is another thing that happens which leads to his discovery.

The compression of ten years into two hours means that certain scenes sitting together look like the possibility that torture led to his capture.”

Mark was surprised Kathryn missed out on a best director Oscar nod this year. The filmmaker previously won the accolade for The Hurt Locker, and Mark is hoping Zero Dark Thirty continues to enjoy success during the awards season. He singled out Jessica Chastain as deserving of the best actress Academy Award.

“I think it’s wonderful that Kathryn as a female director has made a film like this with a female lead. It shows that in the world of the CIA, the women are just as important as the men,” he added. “I hope they do very well out of it. Jessica gives an amazing performance, and Kathryn who isn’t nominated which is surprising, I don’t quite know why that is. “Nevertheless if the film does well, it will reflect well on her and Mark. I think they deserve it, they researched it to the best of their ability and they made the film in the correct way. They tried to make a journalistic, non-glamorous approach to a very difficult subject.”

Zero Dark Thirty is also in the running for best film at the Oscars.